Huge potential for offshore renewable energy

George Marinescu
English Section / 15 noiembrie 2023

Huge potential for offshore renewable energy

Versiunea în limba română

In the Romanian area of the Black Sea, offshore wind energy capacities can total 76 GW, according to the Maritime Space Development Plan The respective plan was adopted by GEO 97/2023 at the end of last week To unlock investments in offshore wind farms, the rapid adoption by the Parliament of the necessary law in this field

Romania's offshore renewable energy potential amounts to a theoretical capacity of 76 Gigawatts (GW), of which 22 GW in the form of fixed turbines and 54 GW in the form of floating turbines, according to the Maritime Space Development Plan approved by GEO 97 /2023, normative act that was approved by the Government at the end of last week.

The quoted document states: "As far as Romania is concerned, offshore wind energy represents a good way of diversifying the energy sources that make up the national energy mix, thus ensuring the fulfillment of the objective of economic development, but most importantly, that of strengthening security energy of the country. Romania's offshore wind energy potential, as assessed based on World Bank (WB) estimates - Romania has a theoretical capacity of 76 GW, 22 GW in the form of fixed turbines and 54 GW in the form of floating turbines. From the point of view of the cost-benefit ratio, the first turbines to be installed are the fixed ones. From the perspective of the advantages offered by offshore wind energy, it can be mentioned a high number of operating hours, low variability and, implicitly, lower forecast errors and reduced balancing costs compared to onshore wind and photovoltaic energy".

With regard to our country's objectives, the maritime space development plan notes that the development of renewable energy sources is one of the investment directions assumed by Romania through the National Integrated Energy and Climate Change Plan (PNIESC) and the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) and therefore all sources of renewable energy production are expected to increase in the coming period.

Regarding investments in the energy sector, the PNRR provides for an allocation of 1.62 billion euros, to which will be added the amount allocated through the RePowerEU Mechanism, funds that will also be used for the realization of offshore wind capacities.

The quoted document also notes that in order to develop the wind potential in the Black Sea, the authorities in our country must manage a series of challenges, the most significant being the one related to the electrical network and the system takeover of offshore energy production.

The maritime space development plan states: "The offshore wind farms developed in the Black Sea by Romania will have to be connected to the grid in the south-east of the country, in Dobrogea, where there is already a significant part of the renewable energy production capacities (wind and solar ), along with two new nuclear units in Cernavodă, an aspect that determines a considerable increase in the installed capacity in an area with rather limited local energy demand. Currently, the regulatory framework regarding the necessary measures for the exploitation of offshore wind energy is being approved".

According to the study Offshore Wind Energy Resources of Romania, there are a number of challenges along the process of developing wind potential, among which the following are listed:

- network challenges (both from the point of view of the connection itself, where infrastructure costs become higher as the distance from the shore increases due to the high voltage cables used to minimize electrical losses, and from the point of view of view of the area showing a rather low demand compared to the fact that new energy capacities are to be developed, as well as two other nuclear units);

- the capacity of the ports (as port facilities, their modernization as a whole must be considered, but also the infrastructure, because components such as foundations, platforms or substations needed for wind farms are manufactured directly in the nearest port, where operation and maintenance activities also take place) ;

- new value chains (which will have to be followed at the level of the European offshore wind industry).

The quoted document states: "In terms of connecting to the offshore grid, as the size of the project and the distance from the shore increase, high voltage power lines are used to minimize losses. Large projects built further from shore may use a high-voltage direct current connection, resulting in higher initial costs. In this context, one of the institutions that must be involved in the development of the offshore potential is Transelectrica, which will ensure the transport of energy from the production facilities from sea to shore and beyond to consumers'.

The specialists who drew up the cited plan also show that several land-sea interaction elements, specific to projects in the offshore wind sector, must be taken into account in the planning process:

- floating turbines require the development of a certain type of infrastructure for their installation, since the components are generally assembled on land and then towed to the location;

- the foundations, platforms or substations required for wind farms are manufactured directly in the nearest port, where operation and maintenance activities also take place;

- the actual connection of the turbine to the grid, after the necessary submarine cables have been placed;

- the transformer stations.

The plan also shows that wind and storm surges constitute the predominant wave regime in the Black Sea and that the coastal area is the most exposed to winds and storm surges. The authors of the cited document claim that the highest wind speeds (34 and 40 m/s) are from the north and from the east-northeast direction and are recorded in the winter season, and the winds from the south-southeast and west- south0-west, cover the most days of the year, about 91 days, while those from east-southeast beat only 28 days a year.

We remind you that the development and adoption of the Maritime Space Development Plan was necessary because the legislative project on offshore wind farms was to be approved by the Parliament by the end of this year.

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